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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 156497 Find in a Library
Title: Punishment or Treatment? Comparing the Lengths of Confinement of Successful and Unsuccessful Insanity Defendants
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:19  Issue:4  Dated:(August 1995)  Pages:375-388
Author(s): E Silver
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 14
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although there is strong public support for providing insanity acquittees with mental health treatment, it is also believed that such acquittees should be punished when they break the law; the current study examined insanity pleas in several States to explore the question of whether society should withhold punishment against persons acquitted of criminal charges due to insanity.
Abstract: Data were obtained from a multistate, longitudinal study of insanity defense reforms. Four States (California, Georgia, New York, and Ohio) were selected because they had enacted insanity defense reforms. The remaining three States (New Jersey, Washington, and Wisconsin) were selected as control States since they had not enacted insanity defense reforms during the study period. Results indicated that offense seriousness was a more important factor than mental disorder in determining length of confinement for persons found not guilty by reason of insanity. Persons found guilty were more likely to be released without ever having been confined than persons acquitted by reason of insanity. Persons acquitted by reason of insanity were typically confined to mental hospitals until such time as it could be determined they were no longer dangerous. Implications for invoking offense seriousness as a primary criterion in assessing dangerousness are discussed. 20 references and 5 tables
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): California; Dangerousness; Georgia (USA); Insanity defense; Longitudinal studies; Mental disorders; Mentally ill offenders; New Jersey; New York; Offender mental health services; Ohio; Punishment; Time served; Treatment; Washington; Wisconsin
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